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Aug 27, 2003

Former credit union employees arrested

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It was considered one of the strongest financial institutions in the country, but a scandal in 2001 rocked the foundation of the Mount Carmel Credit Union in Benque Viejo del Carmen and almost caused the institution to close its doors. Two years later, Credit Union officials believe they are ready to bring the alleged embezzlers to justice. This week, former loans officer Martita Duarte was re-arrested and charged with theft. According to Registrar of Credit Unions and Cooperatives, Zenaida Moya, strong evidence has now surfaced that links Duarte to the missing money.

Zenaida Moya, Registrar of Cooperatives & Credit Unions

“Evidence have now come forward whereby it is now presumed accurate that it was her who sent out some funds through Western Union to Mr. Julio Santos, who was the other person who was charged in the Mount Carmel case at the time; wired funds to him through Western Union to Miami. We feel it’s important because it will directly connect her to the actual embezzlement. We are in the process of proceeding with civil suits against these individuals in the hope of recouping some funds towards Mount Carmel Credit Union and really bringing justice in this matter and closure to this matter. So we feel that by linking her to these alleged embezzlement charges, we will make our case stronger.”

Patrick Jones

“How much money was embezzled from Mount Carmel Credit Union?”

Zenaida Moya

“At the time what was said, it was over five hundred thousand dollars.”

Patrick Jones

“And how much has been recovered so far?”

Zenaida Moya

“So far, nothing.”

Patrick Jones

“2001 the incident happened or it was discovered, why has it taken so long to bring closure as you said to it?”

Zenaida Moya

“Well, as you know, handling financial or white collar cases or embezzlement cases, money laundering cases and so forth, is not one that I believe, our legal system or certain people that should be conducting those aspects, might be able to easily carry out the process. And I must say that it has taken some time because initially there was evidence put forward, but for some reason, the D.P.P. never received such evidence. And this particular evidence that was brought up now that has caused the arrest of Miss Duarte, this was there all along, but it has…the authorities have only now concluded that, yes, this evidence. But it has always been there.”

Duarte appeared in the San Ignacio Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday where she pleaded not guilty and was granted bail of a thousand dollars. Former assistant manager, Julio Santos, is also believed to be involved in the embezzlement and was charged with ten counts of theft. Moya says that since September of 2001, stability has been returned to the Mount Carmel Credit Union and a new Manager, Felipe Flores, has been appointed. Although the initial audit indicated that a little over five hundred thousand dollars was missing, sources close to the case say as much as one point three million dollars may be missing.

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